Congressman visits Atmore

Published 6:08 am Monday, March 28, 2005

By by Lee Weyhrich
Congressman Jo Bonner held a town hall meeting in Atmore, Friday, to help answer questions about current American issues. His main points were in regard to storm damage and Social Security.
"You have a mayor and a city council and other elected officials whose blood sweat and tears have been on display," Bonner said in regards to Atmore's post-Ivan situation.
Bonner praised the city and the county for their progress in getting the city back in shape but made the point that many were still having trouble collecting from insurance companies and FEMA.
He also addressed the public concern over Social Security reform. He stated that Social Security was begun in the 1930s as a result of the New Deal.
"Back then there were 44 people working to every one taking it (Social Security money) out," Bonner said. "Today we have three people working to every one taking it out."
He said that in 13 years time the Social Security program would be losing $1.5 billion a day.
"The president has offered a saving account," Bonner said.
He said that right now four percent of the 12.4 percent of federal taxes paid goes to Social Security. He said that the president has just offered a suggestion to let younger Americans decide what they want to do with that four percent.
"What if we let younger workers invest that four percent in to a savings account?" Bonner asked.
He said the advantage to the personal account was that rather than having the money controlled by the government the people are able to control their financial futures.
Bonner also spoke of the rising fuel prices which he referred to as a new energy crisis.
"I think it is a crisis; it's affecting our farmers and it's affecting the businesses," Bonner said. "We've passed not once, but twice, a comprehensive energy bill."
He said the United States was the largest consumer of gas and oil in the world. He also stated that 65 percent of those petroleum products came from foreign countries and that we have significantly fewer refineries today than in years past.
"In 1985 we had 365 refineries," Bonner said. "Today we have 165 but in the same 20 years we have 165 million more cars."
He said the best solutions for the crisis were new technology and alternative energy sources.
Bonner believes that the only two things that could ruin our economy are the fuel crisis and healthcare.
Also talked about:
Tax reform
According to Bonner, after Social Security Reform the biggest problem facing America is Tax reform.
"There are two major proposals, one is a flat tax," Bonner said.
According to Bonner a flat tax would simplify the way Americans pay taxes.
"In 1913 the 1040 (tax) form was three pages of instruction and one for the tax form; four pages," Bonner said. "Now the instruction book is larger than a phonebook."
With this system everyone would pay the same percentage no matter what their financial status. He said the plan's flaw was that people would try to get so many additions and exceptions passed that the system could quickly end up in worse shape than it is in now.
He said the other option would be a national consumption tax.
"It would do away with the Internal Revenue Service," Bonner said.
He said this plan would be similar to the sales tax that people pay now to go to cities. According to Bonner this plan has the best chance of succeeding
Bonner was also asked about a federal education plan. He said the president is working on a plan to boost money to junior colleges to increase their effectiveness.
"[President Bush has proposed] $150 million new dollars to help use our two-year colleges as a training ground for the workforce," Bonner said.

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